Few Yankees teams in recent memory have been more in need of an early-season pick-me-up.
James Paxton provided it Tuesday night.
The lefthander allowed only two hits and struck out 12 in eight innings in the Yankees’ 8-0 victory over the skidding Red Sox at the Stadium.
“That’s the type of pitcher we know he’s capable of being,” Aaron Judge said. “Big game like this, he came out to play today. It was awesome.”
Paxton’s effort, along with an 11-hit attack, was a welcome development for the Yankees (7-9), who earlier in the day added a 12th player to the injured list, this time Greg Bird.
“Overmatching guys, that’s what he’s capable of when he has his really good stuff,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Really good timing. We obviously really needed that one.”
Paxton raised eyebrows during the weekend by openly discussing the pressure he felt adjusting to the spotlight of pitching in New York, as well as the pitch-tipping he believed contributed to getting rocked in Houston last Wednesday.
“It’s a big deal because it’s against Boston, especially being here, we want to beat Boston every time,” said Paxton, who improved to 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in five career starts vs. the Red Sox. “And it was a big start for me, just to get my feet under me and show myself that I can be here and do this.”
Paxton (2-2), who in many ways was Brian Cashman’s prized offseason acquisition, entered the night with a 6.00 ERA in his first three starts, including the one in Houston when he allowed five runs and eight hits in four innings. Paxton, featuring a fastball that reached 99 mph and a nasty cutter and curveball, got into trouble exactly once — the fourth, when the Red Sox put runners at second and third with none out — but escaped and wasn’t threatened again.
“We just couldn’t catch up to it,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Paxton’s fastball.
Paxton was backed by an offense that erupted against lefthander Chris Sale (0-4, 8.50 ERA).
Though Sale, 6-4 with a 1.61 ERA in 17 previous career games (14 starts) vs. the Yankees, showed some improvement, it was another overall tough night for him and the Red Sox (6-12). Sale allowed four runs and seven hits, including Clint Frazier’s homer, in five innings.
Frazier was one of three Yankees to homer, with Mike Tauchman and Gleyber Torres also going deep. After two-out RBI singles in the third by DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead, Frazier’s blast, his fourth in the fourth inning, made it 3-0. Tauchman, whose RBI double in the fourth made it 4-0, hit his first career homer in the sixth, a three-run shot off Erasmo Ramirez that made it 7-0.
“We were ready to go from the first inning,” said Judge, who went 2-for-4 with a walk, making it 13 out of 16 games in which he has hit safely “We got quality at-bats up and down the lineup.”
Notes and quotes
When Miguel Andujar went to the IL April 1 with a small tear in his right labrum, Boone said the Yankees would have a better idea “in a couple of weeks” if the third baseman would require surgery. Andujar has made steady progress — he started throwing last week and was slated to take batting practice indoors Tuesday — but Boone said the decision on surgery remains up in the air.
“He’ll continue to increase his throwing but I would say we’re not at the point yet where we know one way or the other,” Boone said. “We’re not there to answer that question yet.” . . . The Yankees entered Tuesday having scored first in 12 of 15 games but were 5-7 in those games. This time they scored first and coasted.
Paxton’s effort, along with an 11-hit attack, was a welcome development for the Yankees (7-9) who earlier in the day added a 12th player to the injured list, this time Greg Bird.
Paxton was backed by an offense that erupted against Red Sox lefthander Chris Sale, who came in with his own difficulties – 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA.